September 6, 2011
Oakland, Calif. -- The U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN), a project of WORLD, commends Congresswoman Barbara Lee's unwavering leadership in protecting the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Congresswoman Lee's introduction of a bill this August requiring the distribution of condoms to people in prison and automatic Medicaid enrollment prior to release for prisoners testing positive for HIV represents an enormous step forward for human rights. The Justice for the Unprotected against Sexually Transmitted Infections among the Confined and Exposed (JUSTICE) Act (H.R. 2704) will go a long way to uphold the human right to health and dignity for prisoners and their loved ones.
Communities with high rates of incarceration also tend to have high rates of HIV due to economic and household instability, exacerbated by the interruption of health care services caused by incarceration and reentry. The bill seeks to assure access to HIV prevention tools while incarcerated and to ensure a continuum of care upon reentry -- a medical necessity often not available to people living with HIV due to current state and federal policies.
For women, the JUSTICE Act could serve as a structural intervention that currently does not exist due to the illegality of condoms in federal prisons and the tremendous barriers to medical care upon reentry. The JUSTICE Act is a win for all people's human rights.
You can help get this bill through Congress. Speak with your local congressperson and ask them to co-sponsor the JUSTICE Act.
As a Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Congresswoman Lee will be sponsoring the High Income Countries Dialogue on HIV in Oakland, CA September 16-17. The Commission will be hearing testimony on (1) laws and practices that effectively criminalize people living with HIV and vulnerable to HIV; (2) laws and practices that mitigate or sustain violence and discrimination as lived by women; (3) laws and practices that facilitate or impede HIV-related treatment access; and (4) issues of law and HIV pertaining to children.
The U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN) has been invited to testify before the Commission on the right to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive choice for women living with HIV. Our testimony highlights the many stories of inadequate and discriminatory reproductive health care shared in the PWN 2010 Human Rights survey and released in our March 2011 publication Diagnosis, Sexuality, and Choice: Women Living with HIV and the Quest for Equality, Dignity and Quality of Life in the U.S.
The U.S. Positive Women's Network is appreciative of Congresswoman Lee's unwavering support for the rights of women living with HIV both in the U.S. and abroad. Under her leadership the bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus will launch this September and work to bring HIV-related issues to the forefront of national policy discussions. PWN and our allies will be on the front lines supporting those efforts!